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A battle of Words or Psyches?

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By Maya Mackey

Pretty much everyone 40 and under is keeping up with Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s rap war. Although, it hardly feels safe to call it just that. The vitriol they’ve spewed back and forth for each other is reminiscent of Pac and Biggie. The miracle and growth of Hip Hop, almost thirty years later is that things haven’t gotten (physically) violent. Yet. 

I’ve been dissecting every diss track that comes out. Circling back and playing them in order, every time a new one comes out. And while I could continue to focus on who’s winning or try and investigate which of the allegations are true, I’d rather examine what seems to be driving these men at their core. To do so, I want us to consider their possible enneagram types. 

The Enneagram is an ancient symbol denoting 3 laws of the universe–the law of 1, the law of 3 (mind, body, spirit, or the holy trinity or good, bad, neutral–any system that connects three ideals), and the law of 7 (essentially that after a time, something will have to repeat and reset.  We have 7 days of the week, for example).

In the 1950’s thought leader, Oscar Ichazo, connected the dots between the original enneagram symbol, (pronounced any-uh-gram) and nine archetypes that he found perpetuates throughout human existence.  The 9 types were adopted from ancient philosophers such as the Neoplatonists. Baseline explanations of the 9 types or ego fixations are as follows:

Type 1 is considered the reformer, moralist or perfectionist. They have an insatiable desire to maintain their integrity and what they deem as good, proper, and perfect.

Type 2 is the helper, the lover, the caretaker.  “Twos are people pleasers. They have an unconscious belief that they must earn love by being supportive, helpful and likable, no matter what.

Type 3 is called the achiever or paragon. This is the success-driven archetype.  Failure is not an option for them.  They either win big or go home.   

Type 4 is the artist, the aesthete or the individualist. They are sensitive, moody, withdrawn, expressive and dramatic. They don’t feel as if they’re special or stand out in a crowd, To get noticed they resort to melodrama.    

Type 5 is typically called The Investigator. Other names are the thinker, observer, expert or specialist. Fives have an insatiable drive for competency, and believe they are only as good as what they can offer.  The have a need to master something.

Type 6 is most often called The Loyalist. These people are loyal in hopes that their loyalty will be reciprocated. They rely on people for protection and guidance.

Type 7 is called The Enthusiast Busy, fun-loving and spontaneous, sevens believe you are good or okay if you get what you need. They enjoy life more than any other type and look forward to devouring all the pleasantries life has to offer.

Type 8 is called The Challenger. This is a powerful dominating type, willful and confrontational.  They have issues with power and control.  Eights feel alive when they can maximize their life force and use their strong energy to directly impact others. 

Type 9 is called The Peacemaker. Easy going and self-effacing, no other tpe is as dedicated as the nine to achieving inner peace. They can be fearful when overwhelmed, and prone to deny and deflect when there is a problem.  

So, how does the enneagram show up with regard to Drake, Kendrick and Cole? 

Although  J. Cole dropped out of the battle ( a very nine thing to do!),his role is essential in painting the whole picture. J. Cole, who I believe represents the 9 archetype, tried to be friendly. In First Person Shooter, the song that triggered Kendrick Lamar into a visceral response on Like That, Cole raps, “We, the big three like we started a league, but right now I feel like Muhammad Ali.” 

Friendly, inclusive, and slightly passive-aggressive, J. Cole feels comfortable with his career status and isn’t threatened that Drake and Kendrick are also considered “GOATs”. He chimed in previously in his song, Middle Child:  “This watch came from Drizzy, he gave me a gift/Back when the rap game was prayin’ I’d diss/They act like two  legends cannot coexist.”  

Nines can be spiritual seekers, who wanting to acquire wisdom on their journey to inner peace. and for years, J. Cole has been sharing about trying to achieve  peace, reduce the contradictions in his life, struggling with survivor’s guilt and pleading with young people to put the drugs down. 

When  Like That was released on March 21, the world was surprised that  Kendrick was featured on Future and Metro Boomin’s song. And it was clear from his opening line that he did not feel as friendly. Kendrick spends 3 verses going against any type of peace with lyrics: “My temperament bipolar, I choose violence,” and the most notable “Motherf–k the big 3, it’s just big me!”

Now why would Kendrick be so offended to be in a league with 2 of the most popular male rappers of the era? I suspect it’s because Kendrick is a Type 8: The Challenger. In one of his Like That verses, he lists what people typically join the rap game for: power, money, and respect. He goes on to emphasize, “That last one is better.” Since 2013, when he was featured on Big Sean’s Control, Kendrick has made it known time and time again, he’s trying to “metaphorically” kill these other rappers. He has to be the best!

While that would typically be a Type 3 Achiever thing, the motivation is different. Kendrick’s  Mr. Moral L. P. was dominated by sentiments of wanting to love and do good in the world.   He exclaimed that he is loved, he  is love (or at least is trying) and he’s working on using his power to do good in the world. His need to be the best isn’t for the approval of others but to prove something to himself. He’s also a lot more forceful with it. “I’m tryna murder you n—-s,” versus Drake’s “I’m the best, there’s no debating.” It’s aggression versus bravado. Domination versus prestige.

So Drake, who is a Type 3, seems hellbent on succeeding and being the best at all costs.   In Push Ups, Drake brags on and on about how his current enemies, including Kendrick, can’t touch his net worth or his billboard success. But Kendrick keeps declaring he doesn’t care about that stuff and furthermore is annoyed that Drake can’t find something more meaningful to care about outside of that. 

They swear they’re inherently different from each other.  In some ways they are, but I detect they have more in common than they are willing to admit.  

Kendrick detests that Drake’s morals don’t align with his own. In 6:16 in L.A., Kendricks’, third diss track aimed at Drake, he states his core values are money, morals, and culture. This seems to counter Drake’s values, which appear to be luxury and success. 

 Kendrick calls Drake a master manipulator in Euphoria, a horrible person in Meet the Grahams, and a certified pedophile and colonizer in Not Like Us.  Drake calls Kendrick a fake activist and an alleged wife -beater in Family Matters.   Drake wants Kendrick to stand on the morals that he preaches about.   He calls him out for potentially being a hypocrite. Kendrick asks why Drake can’t man up, instill some self-discipline, and build an authentic identity instead of displaying whatever culture he’s adopted from his current social circle. 

Kendrick and Drake both want to be the best.  They both have immense hometown pride. They both long to be respected by their peers, although Kendrick is more aggressive in making people respect him. They both pretend to be benevolent and caring towards the welfare of women but they’re equally misogynistic. 

The chances of them burying the hatchet are currently at zero. But maybe years down the line–if they aren’t in jail for their allegations and if they’ve found a way to transcend their egos–they could agree they both have influence and that it’s ok if it manifests differently. 

Kendrick still won though.

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